Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster got off to an incredibly fast start to his NFL career over his first two seasons. The last two have seen his production drop a bit, amid some missed games and notably, the 2019 injury to Ben Roethlisberger.
After a 58 catch, 917 yard, seven touchdown rookie season, JuJu had his best season in 2018, his second season in the league. He went for 111/1,426/7, and looked like he’d take up the mantle of Antonio Brown after his departure.
There have been serious diminishing returns since. In 2019, with Big Ben out for all but two games, JuJu caught 42 passes for just 552 yards and three touchdowns. Last season saw improvement, but not back to 2018 levels, catching 97 passes for 831 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns.
After turning down overtures from teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens this offseason, he’s back with the Steelers for at least one more year, and he intends to make it a big one. When asked by Adam Schefter what fans can expect this year during a recent podcast appearance, Smith-Schuster says that he’s expanding his game and will be playing a ton both in the slot and on the outside.
🎙ESPN's @Hasselbeck breaks down the league’s biggest QB storylines.
🎙Pittsburgh WR @TeamJuJu discusses his busy offseason schedule and signing a one-year deal with the Steelers.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 11, 2021
“You are going to get the whole package,” Smith-Schuster said, via the Tribune-Review. “I think the biggest thing that a lot of people are talking about is me playing outside. You’ll definitely see me playing outside more.”
According to the paper, JuJu Smith-Schuster led the NFL with 711 snaps and 629 routes run from the slot last year, but his explosiveness may have suffered. He averaged a career-low 8.6 yards per reception and 6.5 yards per target.
With other young receivers like James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool all back, as well as a talented tight end in Pat Freiermuth and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, we’ll see if JuJu Smith-Schuster really gets unlocked this year, as the Pittsburgh Steelers look to make what may be one last run at a Super Bowl with Roethlisberger under center.